Saturday, 23 March 2019

Texts

The “black panther” movement

Fifty years ago, in mid-October 1966, some young, black people from Oakland (California), exasperated by constant police violence, started to patrol the streets of the ghetto, literally applying the state law on arms, which authorized pistols and guns to be carried on condition they were in full view and not aimed at anyone. This is how the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense came into being. These were the years of the civil rights movement and the repeated rebellions in US ghettoes and the Black Panthers took up the teachings of Malcolm X (who had been killed a little over a year previously), radicalising the positions that were the embryo of Black Power and combining Maoism, third-worldism and black nationalism. Very soon, the party grew to a national level with strong roots in the ghettoes of the main cities (as well as in the country’s prisons) and a project for organizing and creating political awareness in the lower layers of the black population, as well as for direct assistance to the community. State repression was not long in coming and proved ferocious: from infiltration by spies and ‘agents provocateurs’ to trials with prefabricated accusations, right up to the cold-blooded murder of many of the organization’s militants. The effective lifespan of the Black Panther Party was relatively short – ten years or so – and its decline was caused partly by state repression and partly by its original frailty and theoretical ambiguity and the attempt to offset this by an organization in which militarism prevailed over political content. In view of the renewed talk of the Black Panther Party [1] since the summer 2016 “Dallas shootings” (when a black sharpshooter shot and killed some white policemen), we believe it may be useful to re-publish the article that appeared in issue n. 5, 1971, of our Italian newspaper “Il programma comunista”, clearly establishing the reality and limits of the movement.

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The Rot is Growing in Great Britain

A year ago in the pages of this newspaper (and later in our English-language publication, The Internationalist), we called attention to the serious social situation in Great Britain, particularly with regard to the “housing issue” and the anti-proletarian measures being passed or planned 1. This was well before the “Brexit” case hit the scene in Europe. In addition, in the editorial to issue 4/2016 of this same newspaper 2, we stressed the fact that the predictable decline in the living and working conditions of British proletarians (whether natives or immigrants) should not be attributed to Great Britain leaving Europe (i.e. to Brexit as such) but to the complex of measures that every national capital is obliged to adopt to deal with its own crisis – measures amongst which “Brexit” itself can be counted. What has actually changed since then? Not much really, apart from social contradictions becoming even more acute: even the mere insistence with which some local institutions in London (such as, to quote one example, the local library of Tower Hamlets, one of London’s traditionally proletarian areas most affected by the relentless march of property and financial speculation – so-called gentrification) are returning to the burning issue of housing, with ample documentation on the squat movements, which were particularly widespread and combative in the 1920s and ‘30s, but also later in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Class War

Capitalism is war!” we have always stated, to the scandal of right-thinking people and fine souls. It is enough to look back over three centuries of history for confirmation. Yet we communists are not pacifists. We know quite well (and have always said so, what’s more) that the wars at the beginning of the age of capitalism and for the affirmation of the new class, the bourgeoisie, were not only necessary but also progressive: they plucked humanity from the rule of the old feudal mode of production, which was by then superfluous and destructive, thus allowing it to take an enormous step forward in history. Nonetheless they were wars, with their dead, their destruction, their suffering: and those who celebrate the rule of capitalism in an abstract way as the “best of all possible worlds” must not forget this – the bourgeoisie came into being and imposed its own mode of production amidst bloodshed and by means of weapons, spreading it throughout the world by means of weapons and bloodshed.

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The World of Capital Increasingly Adrift

It is a historical fact that in certain phases, after long periods of apparent inertia, the economic and

social dynamics produced by capitalism itself in its most aggressive and destructive phase (that of imperialism) suddenly accelerate, with violent repercussions and unexpected breaks, coming closer and closer to the time of reckoning in the world of capitalist production and involving the world proletariat. It is too soon to tell whether we are now in one of these phases and in fact our task (theoretical and practical, political and organizational) must be to follow and analyse step by step the evolution of the world economic crisis, in terms of its reflections on society and the way classes (and groups and factions within them) move, operate and start to align. The fact is, and we cannot help but dwell on this, that the world economic crisis is constantly at work deep down, wearing away certainties and conventions (and, above all, those fictitious economic reserves – savings, pensions, homes – as well as the social – pensions, healthcare, education – which constituted the real illusion of all reformism), breaking down what was supposed to be solid and provoking a situation of growing uncertainty and instability in terms of hard economic facts and daily life. Observers and opinion-makers of limited intelligence fall back on medical-psychiatric terminology to define the “human condition” today: they speak of the “onset of global anxiety”, “globalization and crises of rejection”. This is a sorry demonstration of the depths to which the caste of power ideologists has sunk! Behind this demonstration of historical, theoretical and conceptual ignorance loom deep tension and lacerations, which affect and cause harm to our proletarian class itself.

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The Prostrate and the Exultant. Or the new US President and the Convenient Idiots

And now what will the convenient idiots do on both sides of the ocean (whatever ocean), still convinced as they are that what decides politics (domestic, foreign, economic, social, etc. etc.) is the Man (Woman) sent by Providence, elected every few years or so to the beating of drums and showers of streamers, fireworks and sequins, flag-waving, thirty-four-tooth smiles and handfuls of all sorts of promises, like sweets?

What will the prostrate do, now that the only programme that remains to them is a whining “vote the least objectionable, but vote”, thrashing about in a tormented dilemma of “what have (haven’t) we done? What should (shouldn’t) we have done?” Barely concealing a touch of rancour towards Democracy, so highly praised, by Whom they have been punished (“Ah, how ungrateful! After all we’ve done for you!”)?

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International Press

 

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